Victoria’s lockdown to be enforced by special police taskforce

Restaurants and venues in the Docklands area of Melbourne are among thousands that will close from 12pm on Monday.

Restaurants and venues in the Docklands area of Melbourne are among thousands that will close from 12pm on Monday. Photo: ABC

A specialist coronavirus enforcement police taskforce will begin operating across Victoria to enforce the self-isolation mandate and social distancing as pubs, clubs, cinemas and sporting venues closed on Monday.

In a clear and direct warning, Premier Daniel Andrews said Victoria police have allocated 500 police members to a special task force “that is all about enforcing the coronavirus rules that have been put in place”.

A Victoria Police spokesperson said on Monday afternoon further details on the “coronavirus enforcement squad” including its operating model would be provided shortly.

“The taskforce will cover the entire state,” he said, adding that there would be no details on the breakdown by suburb or region of where police will operate.

Mr Andrews said it was “painful but it is absolutely appropriate” with the shutdown, effective from 12pm, and will include pubs, clubs, nightclubs, Crown Casino, licensed venues in hotels, gyms, indoor sporting venues, places of worship, cinemas, entertainment venues, and the holding of weddings and funerals.

Restaurants and cafes will only be allowed to provide home delivery or takeaway services, he said but hairdressers and beauticians can continue to operate.

“This list is comprehensive,” he said, urging people to go to the state government’s coronavirus website for a full list.

He confirmed the Victorian school holidays would start on Monday afternoon.

Victoria recorded 59 new cases overnight, taking the state’s total to 355 cases. The number is expected to rise on Monday with the tally finalised at 9.30am, Mr Andrews said.

In NSW, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the same venues in that state will not be able to operate in the normal way from 12pm.

As of 8am on Monday, NSW has 669 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, up by 136 overnight. There are 10 people in ICUs and six people have died.

“I want to stress that schools in NSW from tomorrow will remain open,” she told reporters on Monday morning.

“The health advice has not changed however, for practical reasons, in NSW we will be encouraging parents to keep their children at home.”

Ms Berejiklian said no child would be turned away from a public school in NSW.

“Already last week we had up to 30 per cent of parents who chose to keep students or their children at home and we appreciate and anticipate that number will increase.

“Schools will remain open and for those children who have no option, whose parents have no option, no child will be turned away from school.”

Victoria now has 355 cases.

Bondi Beach was heaving with people for days before its closure. Photo: AAP

Mr Andrews said it was “disappointing”, “but we have seen people on beaches in Sydney, we could just as easily have seen people in bars and cafes and restaurants and nightclubs here in Melbourne and right across Victoria”.

“It is unacceptable. It will cost lives. So no matter what you call it, no matter what motivates you, do the right thing for everybody.

“That’s what’s at stake here. If we have a situation where this virus fundamentally gets away from us we will have thousands of people who will only survive if they can breathe with the assistance of a machine and we will not have enough machines, nurses and doctors to provide that care

Italian medical staff are dealing with 27,980 patients amid 2158 deaths. Photo: AAP

“I’m not sure whether I could make it any clearer than that. If you need further evidence, turn on your TV, have a look at what’s going on in Italy,
have a look at what’s going on in many other parts of the world.

“This is the only way that we can keep people safe by flattening that surf and suppressing the number of people who finish up with coronavirus and ultimately reducing the number of people who will die. That is what’s at stake.

“It is easy to do the right thing for your family and for people that you have never met.

“I just want to make this point, whether you call it mateship, whether you call it being Australian, being Victorian, whether you call it decent behaviour, civic duty, I don’t care what you call it, just do it,” he said in a passionate press conference on Monday morning.

Coronavirus helpline: 1800 675 398

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